Articles Posted in Weight Loss Treatments

Some unethical doctors are charging patients big bucks for prescriptions of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) for weight loss. Supposedly you can lose fat in just the right places, the belly for one, if you take daily hCG injections in your abdomen. The claims are sheer quackery.

This use of hCG, a pregnancy hormone that is derived from the urine of pregnant women, is “off label,” meaning the manufacturer is not allowed to promote its use for weight loss, since it’s never been proven to work.

For the doctors who prescribe hCG for weight loss, it’s not illegal, just unethical. The use of hCG for weight loss has never been proven to work any better than injections of salt water (placebo).

A diet drug which safety advocates called to be withdrawn from public use eight years ago has finally bit the dust. Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, the drug’s manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, voluntarily pulled the drug from the market due to longstanding concerns that it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“There was no identifiable population of patients for whom the benefits of Meridia outweighed its risks,” said John Jenkins, MD, director of the office of new drugs at the FDA. “Meridia’s continued availability is not justified when you compare the very modest weight loss that people achieve on this drug to their risk of heart attack or stroke.”

The move was described as “commendable but dangerously too late,” by Sidney Wolfe, MD, a member of the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee and director of the Health Research Group of Public Citizen, a consumer and health advocacy group.

LipoDissolve is the brand name for an injectable drug that is supposed to melt fat. The patient gets a series of injections that supposedly dissolve the bonds between fat cells, and the body then flushes the fat away. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Patients who’ve had these injections have told the Food and Drug Administration that they’ve developed painful knots under their skin, scarring, deformities and other bad outcomes. What’s worse, the drugs used — chemicals caled phosphatidylcholine (PC) and deoxycholate (DC) — have never been proven to be effective for these promoted purposes.

The FDA has tried to crack down on these treatments. Last spring, it sent warning letters to various “medspas” — usually run by well credentialed dermatologists or plastic surgeons — telling them that they were making false and misleading statements on their websites. For example, here’s an excerpt of one letter sent to a dermatologist in the tony Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland:

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